Long-term business success

TWO CERTAINTIES

Two Certainties.jpg

Perhaps the most important model in my book, The Language of Excellence,  is the one for TWO CERTAINTIES. The term “death and taxes” in the flip chart image is often quoted as the two certainties in life voiced by Benjamin Franklin. The graphic pairs Franklin's common sense terms with the words “change” and “judged” because change and judged are better descriptions of the two certainties as faced by businesses. For deliberate long-term success, an enterprise must have an understanding and acceptance of the two certainties— (1) we either purposely change to improve, or natural forces erode and change us for the worse, and (2) what we are is determined through the judgment of others.

I wrote the The Language of Excellence as a teaching aid. I discovered by accident that when all members of an organization understand the implications of important management and leadership concepts, magic happens within that enterprise. It is as if someone pulls back the curtain and turns up the lights. Suspicions disappear, replaced by unity.

To learn about the behavior of change, to gain an understanding of the rule of the fewest, to be able to put a name to observed phenomena such as the life cycle and suboptimization tears down the iron curtain between “management” and “employees.” A team arises—a competent team, one that shares a core set of beliefs and a common sense of direction—eager to help write their own playbook.

I want to clarify that I claim no origination credit for the concepts in The Language of Excellence. They are a compilation of ideas collected, distilled, reshaped, blogged, and even tweeted during fifty years of on-the-job training and a lifetime of reading and listening to the great minds of business—people like Peter Drucker, W. Edwards Deming, Nancy Austin and Tom Peters. The use of graphics and trigger words that bring those visual images to mind was inspired by usability improvements contributed by icons in graphical user interfaces (GUIs), by the power of Tom Peters’s model of excellence, and by the effectiveness of Model-Netics, the graphic image-laden management training courses of American General during my brief tenure with the company.

The concepts inside The Language of Excellence, like the Two Certainties apply to life as well as business. The book is one of the best gifts one could give to a young professional. It can be invaluable to the entrepreneur starting a new business or to a seasoned executive frustrated by the difficulty of steering an unresponsive corporate ship.

The Language of Excellence teaches the skills for long-term purposeful success. The concept of the Two Certainties conveys that for that long-term success, you must learn to deal with and manage change, and you must accept that you and your accomplishments are what others perceive them to be. 

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For more about The Language of Excellence at a discounted price for bulk purchases go to http://www.tomcollinsauthor.com/language-of-excellence/. For signed copies of books by Tom Collins, go to TomCollinsAuthor.com. Unsigned print and eBook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. Audio versions of The Claret Murders and  Diversion are available from iTunes, Audibles and Amazon. eBook editions are also available through Apple iTunes’ iBook’s Store and Smashwords.com.
Published by I-65 North, Inc.

Exceptional Customer Care—The Mystery Ingredient

I recently sold a vacation home and selected Allied to move furniture from Florida to Tennessee. They were a class act. I will not go into everything that made the organization stand out. I will just focus on the driver and his helper. We were not present when they picked up the furniture, but we met the truck when it arrived at the storage facility we had selected to house the items until needed. Throughout the unloading process, my wife and I were struck by the courtesy (politeness) both men showed to each other. Of course they were nice to us—the customer—but why to each other?

I have always talked about common courtesy as a job requirement in any organization.
Common Courtesy
Customers accept nothing less. If they do not get it, then when they have an alternative, and eventually they will, they will take it. However, this was different. It was common courtesy kicked up a notch—it was “kindness.” Both men showed kindness and concern toward each other and to us. It was something more than just common courtesy.

I decided to do a little research and it lead to a book by Ed Horrell, The Kindness Revolution: The Company-Wide Culture Shift That Inspires Phenomenal Customer Service. Lydia Ramsey, a business etiquette expert, writing about Horrell’s book said:
“From the rampant indifference that we all encounter on a daily basis, he recommends that companies, large and small, switch to an attitude of kindness. He's not suggesting that the boss simply tell everyone “to be nice.” He states that kindness starts at the top and penetrates every level of the organization. When everyone within a company treats everyone else with courtesy, respect and compassion, that attitude automatically gets passed on to the customers.”
Tom Peters, a writer on business management practices, states flatly that there are only two ways for an organization to achieve long-term durable success. One has to have exceptional customer care and practice constant innovation.

It may well be that “kindness” is the mystery ingredient. I recall the first planning session that I held with the new Juris team. The startup company at that time had only nine employees. When asked what kind of company they wanted us to be, the answer was “We want to be a company that likes its customers and is liked by them.”

How does one achieve exceptional customer care, common courtesy, kindness, and customers who like you? As a leader, you have to practice it yourself. You have to verbalize it and reinforce it through constant communication. It has to be a performance standard. It has to be a “core belief”—a fixed unshakeable point on the moral compass of the organization.

I was not surprised when, upon completing the unloading job and shaking hands with us, the driver said, “When they ask you how we did, I hope you can give us five stars.” That is right; the company measures and rewards performance.

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Tom Collins’ books include his book on leadership, The Language of Excellence, and his mystery novels including Mark Rollins’ New Career, Mark Rollins and the Rainmaker, Mark Rollins and the Puppeteer and the newest mystery, The Claret Murders. For signed copies, go to the author’s online store. unsigned print and ebook editions are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores. For an audio editon of The Claret Murders go to http://amzn.com/B00IV5ZJEI. The ebook edition for the iPad is available through Apple iTunes’ iBookstore.